December 16, 2017

Lake Superior State University Releases 42nd Annual List of Banished Words

From Lake Superior St. University:

The wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University have taken their best “guesstimate” and released LSSU’s 42nd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

“Overused words and phrases are a ‘bête noire’ for thousands of users of the ‘manicured’ Queen’s English,” said an LSSU spokesperson, who released the ‘historic’ list during a town hall meeting. “We hope our modest ‘listicle’ will figure ‘bigly’ in most ‘echo chambers’ around the world.”

LSSU’s word banishment tradition is now in its fifth decade, and was started by the late W. T. Rabe, a public relations director at Lake Superior State University.

Rabe and fellow LSSU faculty and staff came up with the first list of words and phrases that people love to hate at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975, publishing it on Jan. 1, 1976. Though he and his friends created the first list from their own pet peeves about language, Rabe said he knew from the volume of mail he received in the following weeks that the group would have no shortage of words and phrases from which to choose for 1977. Since then, the list has consisted entirely of nominations received from around the world throughout the year.

Through the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for the list, which now includes more than 850 entries. This year’s list is culled from nominations received mostly through the university’s website.

Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more. A committee makes a final cut in late December. Compilers hope this year’s list is “on fleek.”

Comment on the List (Facebook)

Selections From 2017 List of Banished Words

Focus – Good word, but overused when concentrate or look at would work fine.  See 1983’s banishment of, We Must Focus Our Attention.

Town Hall Meeting – Candidates seldom debate in town halls anymore. Needs to be shown the door along with “soccer mom(s)” and “Joe Sixpack” (banned in 1997).

Post-Truth – To paraphrase the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, we are entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts.

Guesstimate – When guess and estimate are never enough.

Historic – Thrown around far too much. What’s considered as such is best left to historians rather than the contemporary media.

Echo Chamber – Lather, rinse, and repeat. After a while, everything sounds the same.

Frankenfruit – Another food group co-opted by “frankenfood.” Not to be confused with other forms of genetically modified language.

Disruption – Nominators are exhausted from 2016’s disruption. When humanity looks back on zombie buzzwords, they will see disruption bumping into other overused synonyms for change.

Direct to Complete 2017 List of 19 Words

Additional Resources

Direct to ALL Entries From All Lists (More Than 850 Words)

Direct to Lists (by Year)

A History of the Banished Words List

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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